Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


An Examination of Outcomes of Undergraduate Dietetics Students in an Enhanced Academic Program

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Judith May (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Paul Johnson (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Matthew Lavery (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Deborah Myers. (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Jerry Schnepp (Other)


Jobs in healthcare will increase an estimated 18% between 2016 and 2028, which will lead to 2.4 million new jobs, including positions for registered dietitian nutritionists (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018). However, when students select the undergraduate dietetics program and apply for a dietetics internship, there is one major piece of information to consider: There are almost twice as many students applying for internships than positions available (ACEND, 2018c). Consequently, advising is essential to the success of a dietetics student when they enter a program to ensure that they are adequately prepared to apply for the internship.

The purpose of this study was to understand the outcomes and experiences of undergraduate dietetics majors in an enhanced academic program after graduation. Specifically, the study assessed if at a large, public midwestern university programmatic enhancements would improve: overall GPA; dietetics core curriculum GPA; number of volunteer hours, advising appointments, students accepted into graduate programs, students pursuing and passing the NDTR exam, and students applying for a dietetic internship; and percentage of those placed into a dietetic internship.

The convergent parallel study design utilized a comparison and an intervention group. Data were analyzed to assess the variables between the groups. There were no significant differences between the groups for high school GPA, ACT scores, university GPA, core dietetics GPA, and number of volunteer hours, students applying for internship, students attending graduate school, and students pursuing and passing the NDTR exam. The findings demonstrated positive trends among the intervention group in the number of volunteer hours and students attending graduate school and passing the NDTR exam.

There was a significant difference between the groups for placement into dietetic internship (p = 0.02). Although, there was no significant difference in the perceptions of preparedness for the future, the intervention group self-reported an increased number of the highest rankings relative to preparedness. Correlations were shown between the cohort groups and university GPA, core dietetics GPA, and high school GPA with internship placement. Finally, the themes from the open-ended questions related to the strengths of the program were Faculty, Challenging Curriculum, Prepared Me Well, and Diverse Opportunities.